Do big cycling events like the Tour de France have a positive effect on drivers’ perception of everyday cyclists? It’s an idea campaigners are often sceptical about, but a survey from a Yorkshire car dealer has found that 73 percent of drivers says they drive more carefully around cyclists because of the publicity around the Tour.
In the survey of 2,100 drivers and cyclists conducted for ColinAppleyard.com, a whopping 90 percent of drivers said they were more aware of cyclists thanks to the Tour, which kicks off in Leeds on July 5.
Drivers say the build-up to the two days of racing has made them consider cyclists as equal road users to motor vehicles, and some are even thinking of buying a bike themselves.
Yorkshire cyclists have noticed a difference too, with many saying that they’ve noticed greater courtesy and patience on roads around Yorkshire.
“Le Tour has really caught the local imagination,” said company spokesman Robin Appleyard, “and it’s pleasing to hear that drivers have shifted their attitudes to bicycle users for the better.”
According to the research:
90% of Yorkshire drivers say they’re more aware of cyclists thanks to Le Tour
73% said they now drive more carefully around cyclists
59% of drivers admitted they had driven discourteously around cyclists in the last two years
10% of drivers say the Tour de France has made them consider buying a bike
And it's not just drivers saying they've mended their ways:
65% of cyclists say they’ve noticed a greater courtesy toward them in the last month
88% of cyclists said they had been the victim of bad driving in the last two years
Appleyard says the survey shows encouraging signs that public attitudes to cyclists are changing thanks to the publicity surrounding July’s Grand Départ and the two major stages between Leeds and Harrogate and York to Sheffield.
He said: “For one, it’s doing away with the erroneous assumption of ‘At least I pay my road tax’.”
As followers of the ‘road tax’ wars in social media will know, Vehicle Excise Duty is calculated on a vehicle’s emissions, so as Appleyard points out: “As a zero emission vehicle the cyclist pays the same duty as an electric-powered car like the Nissan Leaf.”
Appleyard also said there’s a significant crossover between both modes of transport: “Most cyclists are car users as well. They know what it’s like both in the saddle and behind the wheel, and lead by example for other drivers.”
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.